OT: Language for the ages

Fred Cisin cisin at xenosoft.com
Sat Oct 15 13:03:29 CDT 2005

> >>C
> >Er, how big is an int? a pointer?

although often sizes such as 16 bits or 32 bits, an int is whatever sized
group of bytes is most "comfortable and convenient" for the processor to
handle.  However, the defined size for an int must not be smaller than the
defined size for a short int, nor larger than the defined size of a long
int.  Negative numbers are often represented in 2s complement notation,
but that is purely implementation dependent, and CAN be done in other

A pointer is whatever size, and configuration, is needed to refer to a
specific memory location.  It can even be used to refer to a 16 bit offset
within a segment, or even as a 32 bit quantity that is actually a
structure of two 16 bit quantities (far *  v  segment:offset)

It has sometimes been recommended, in order to further current forms of
abuse, that the sizes of various variable types should not be relatively prime.

FORTRAN   (The Devils' DP Dictionary.)

FORTRAN n [Acronym for Formula Translation system.]

One of the earliest languages of any real height, level-wise, developed
out of Speedcoding by Backus and Ziller for the IBM/704 in the mid-1950s
in order to boost the sales of 80-column cards to engineers.

In spite of regular improvements (including a recent option called
STRUCTURE), it remains popular among engineers but despised elsewhere.
Many rivals, with the benefit of hindsight, have crossed swords with the
old workhorse! Yet FORTRAN gallops on, warts and all, more transportable
than syphilis, fired by a bottomless pit of working subprograms. Lacking
the compact power of APL, the intellectually satisfying elegance of ALGOL
68, the didactic incision of pascal, and the spurned universality of PL/1,
FORTRAN survives, nay flourishes, thanks to superior investmental inertia.


More information about the cctalk mailing list